February 14, 2021

NXT Review – 10/02/2021

NXT TakeOver Vengeance Day is on Sunday and, looking at the preview, NXT are trying to cram two shows into one to build to it. The finals of both Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournaments will take place at TakeOver, so the remaining three semi-final matches are tonight. Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell face Ember Moon & Shotzi Blackheart to decide who will join Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez in the women’s final. The men’s final will be the winners of Tommaso Ciampa & Timothy Thatcher versus Grizzled Young Veterans and MSK versus Legado del Fantasma.

Finn Balor has a face to face with Pete Dunne. Cameron Grimes has a match against an unnamed opponent, as does Xia Li. Li will have Tian Sha in her corner. Karrion Kross and Scarlett will be around. And Austin Theory takes on Kushida to get some payback for Kushida “injuring” Johnny Gargano last week, allegedly taking Gargano out of Sunday’s TakeOver defence. I suspect William Regal might have something to say about that.




MSK def. Legado del Fantasma

Xia Li def. Cora Jade

Ember Moon & Shotzi Blackheart def. Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell

Kushida def. Austin Theory (DQ)

Grizzled Young Veterans def. Tommaso Ciampa & Timothy Thatcher




MSK vs Legado del Fantasma – Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semi-final

Hell of a match to get the TakeOver go-home underway. Fast action, fast tags, and double teams galore with bodies flying around all over the place. MSK are trying to hit NXT with a hot streak, and Legado del Fantasma are trying to prove Santos Escobar right that it is their time.

All four of these guys are great and both teams work seamlessly together, which made for a very enjoyable match. There was a lot of testing each other’s limits and a lot of one-upmanship.

There was a complex near fall when Mendoza held Carter on his shoulders and Wilde jumped off the turnbuckle to double stomp him on the way to landing on Lee. Wes Lee got his knees up and Mendoza had to drop Carter on them to stop him pinning Wilde.

It was a temporary reprieve. Joaquin Wilde took the double team finisher that put MSK onto the TakeOver card.

MSK face either Tommaso Ciampa & Timothy Thatcher or Grizzled Young Veterans at TakeOver Vengeance Day on Sunday.


IN her video promo, Mercedes Martinez said this Sunday is everything she ever worked for, for 20 years. This is the real her and the NXT Women’s Championship is what she came back for. She called Toni Storm a little girl and said she’s not ready for the title. And told Io Shirai to come at her because it’s going to take a lot more than she’s given her so far.


Xia Li, with Boa, vs Cora Jade

Xia Li has a sword now and does a short display as part of her entrance. It’s cool, but I’m not sure it flows as an entrance. Tian Sha was in her ornate chair on the stage.

Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter came to ringside to tell Li they were worried about her. Li was arguing with them when Cora Jade attacked her from behind. That was the only offence Jade got. It was all over in less than a minute, finished with Li kicking her in the head.

Kayden Carter approached Tian Sha and demanded to know who she was and what she was doing to Xia. Li threw Carter off the stage, which looked kinda grim, and apologised to Tian Sha. Boa tried to intervene. Tian Sha grabbed his throat and held it until Li had gone back to the ring and taken Catanzaro down as well, laying her out with a huge head kick.


Scarlett was in William Regal’s office when he got back to it. She said she was there because if he came it wouldn’t be good. Santos Escobar. Time’s up. Next week. Regal agreed to the match.


Johnny Gargano is using a wheelchair because he broke his arm… I have no idea what to say at the point other than NOPE, so I’ll leave it at that.

He sustained these “injuries” at the hands of Kushida last week in what he called a cowardly attack. The arm break was apparently the result of a kick, which he replayed. He said it caused four fractures and he was calling for Kushida’s indefinite suspension.

William Regal came out and told him he was holding up the women’s Dusty Cup Semi-final. He also said Gargano knew full well the medical team cleared him yesterday. Gargano produced x-rays which he claimed were his and told ever more outrageous lies.

Regal was buying none of it. He said Gargano had two options. Either Theory can be his surrogate and tonight’s match can be for the North American Championship, or Gargano could forfeit. Gargano didn’t like either of those options and said Regal should give him a couple of months to rehab. Regal said he’d have to ask Kushida what he thought. Somehow, none of The Way had noticed Kushida joining them and standing between LeRae and Theory.

When Regal’s question made Theory notice him, Kushida punched him and tried to wrench the title out of Gargano’s hands. Johnny Gargano kept hold of it, pulling hard with both arms until he stood up from the wheelchair. Kushida punched him straight back into it and Indi Hartwell had to hold Candice LeRae back. He stood there with his hands up while LeRae tried to fight free, then Ember Moon and Shotzi Blackheart arrived in Blackheart’s tank.

Looks like the North American Championship match will be going ahead as planned on Sunday.


Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell vs Ember Moon & Shotzi Blackheart – Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semi-final

I hate it when they start important matches during an ad break, but it was underway when we got back.

Shotzi Blackheart got isolated and beaten on for a long period of the match. During that time, Wade Barrett slipped in that LeRae has been wrestling for 19 years. Blackheart eventually got to Moon, but she didn’t get much of a break. As soon as Moon was in they were back to quick tags. Blackheart stalked LeRae on the outside, but LeRae threw her into the announce desk, then brought Moon down off the apron on top of her.

It genuinely felt like it could have gone either way, which is refreshing, to say the least. There is enough history between these teams to add depth and huge stakes as well. Ember Moon saved the match after Blackheart took a Wicked Stepsister then an elbow drop, but it was Blackheart who got the finish.

Candice LeRae stumbled into an Eclipse after getting kicked in the head for trying to help Hartwell. The Eclipse left her laid in front of the corner and Indi Hartwell tried to protect LeRae from Blackheart’s senton from the top by rolling on top of her. Thing is, Hartwell was the legal competitor. Shotzi Blackheart landed the senton on Hartwell and LeRae, ensuring LeRae couldn’t make the save as she pinned Indi Hartwell.

Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez came out for the standoff on either side of the Dusty Cup. William Regal joined them to say that the winner of the tournament would also get a WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship match.


Timothy Thatcher and Tommaso Ciampa had a promo segment ahead of their match. Thatcher said they went to war with Undisputed ERA last week. It was rough and brutal, which is just the way they like it. This week they go to war with last year’s finalists. Ciampa said Gibson and Drake are a couple of tough dudes, but the name Grizzled Young Veterans was ironic. They can call themselves whatever they like but Toothless Timmy and Old Man Ciampa are going to whoop their asses. Then on Sunday, they’re going to win the Dusty Cup.


Santos Escobar doesn’t seem phased by facing Karrion Kross. He was mid-interview when Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde arrived and started apologising for their loss. He told them not to apologise and sent them to look for Kross.


Finn Balor and Pete Dunne’s video package was great, as ever. I’m looking forward to this one.


Kushida vs Austin Theory, with Johnny Gargano

With Johnny Gargano’s attempt to get out of his match against Kushida a failure, it was Theory’s job to make sure Kushida didn’t make it to the match in good shape. Kushida just wanted to make Gargano watch as he twisted Theory’s limbs into a number of increasingly unpleasant looking positions.

Theory was mainly on the defensive until Kushida slipped on the ropes and Theory sent him crashing to the floor. It wasn’t enough to get him the win, but it got him a few minutes to set the pace and regroup, and show off to his mentor.

Inevitably, Kushida turned it around and Theory escaped the ring to regroup after almost getting his shoulder ripped clean out. He managed to knock Kushida to the floor when he joined him on the outside, but a failed attempt at a powerbomb off the apron left him in an armbar.

Gargano caused the disqualification by kicking Kushida in the face to set Theory free. He then got Theory to hold him still while he declared a miracle fix of his arm and repeatedly punched him and kicked him in the face again. Theory rolled Kushida back into the ring but before he could follow, he suddenly started to disappear under it. Gargano reached in to pull him out, but it was Dexter Lumis who Gargano retrieved.

Kushida got the hoverboard lock on Gargano after Gargano prised him off Theory, and before Theory could return the favour, Lumis locked on The Silence.

Johnny Gargano spent so long in the hoverboard lock that he might actually have a hurt arm now.


Toni Storm said she told everyone what was going to happen before hse even came back. She told Mercedes Martinez that where she comes from it’s rude to insert yourself in other people’s business. Regarding Io Shirai, she said she wouldn’t like her either if she was her, because every time they share a ring, Storm beats her. She beat her for the Mae Young Classic and on Sunday everyone will be talking about her walking away with the NXT Women’s Championship. It’s Toni time.


Imperium got a hype video. It looks like all four of them are back together now.


Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde were attacked backstage. The first clue to their attackers’ identity was Scarlett’s legs as walked past. Karrion Kross spelt it out. They found him. Escobar should have done the job himself.


Cameron Grimes arrived at the arena in a fancy car wearing a suit, but no shirt, and handing out cash. He got rich on Game Stop money after discovering video games while recovering from the injury inflicted on him by Timothy Thatcher.

He was ‘a little hyper’ as he jumped around the ring yelling that William Regal could ‘Kiss my grits’ if he thought he was wrestling Dexter Lumis or zombies.

He finished the segment by throwing a lot of money in the air then rolling around the ring in it and cackling.


The NXT North American Championship match is confirmed to be back on, not that it was ever off. Gargano yelled at McKenzie Mitchell that he was doing Kushida a favour by trying to get the match cancelled. It’s a dream match for a lot of people but for him, it’s an opportunity. He’s going to remind the world he’s not just the North American Champion, he’s not just Johnny Wrestling, he’s Johnny TakeOver. Kushida better be ready to wrestle the match of his life if he wants the title, because no one can hang with him at TakeOver.


Io Shirai isn’t scared of a three-way match. She defeated Charlotte Flair and Rhea Ripley to win the title. In fact, she’s looking forward to it. Toni Storm is still not suitable for the championship. It has been three years since the Mae Young Classic and she is a different person now. She is a champion now. Toni Storm is just another Challenger. Mercedes Martinez sats she has been on a twenty-year journey for the championship. Unfortunately for her, that journey will never end because Shirai will successfully defend the title at Vengeance Day.


Grizzled Young Veterans vs Tommaso Ciampa & Timothy Thatcher – Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semi-final

Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher got sick of the sound of Zack Gibson’s voice before he and James Drake got into the ring. Thatcher kicked Drake off the apron, Ciampa went for Gibson, and there was a thorough pre-match beatdown, they even swapped so they both got a turn at beating on them. Eventually, Thatcher threw Gibson into the ring and climbed in for the official match start. Drake was the other side of the barricades at that point, courtesy of Ciampa.

All photo credits: wwe.com

Drake got back in time to save Gibson from crashing into a corner and after a brief stint in the ring, took Ciampa out on the outside by throwing him into the steps. They went back to Ciampa once Thatcher was down from a spinning heel kick and powerbombed him onto the apron.

Grizzled Young Veterans are annoying and obnoxious, but they’re a damned good team. Ciampa was seen by the medical team during the break and was out of the match for a long time, during which Drake and Gibson systematically took Thatcher apart. Of course, Ciampa was back when Thatcher really needed him, running on adrenaline and punching Gibson down on his way back to the ring.

The show went into overtime to give this one the time it needed, and it was worth it. There could have been no complaints about whoever the eventual winners were. Thatcher saved Ciampa post-Doomsday Device. Gibson saved Drake from taking Willow’s Bell. James Drake had already knocked Timothy Thatcher over the barricades with a suicide dive, but he still had to hold him back while Gibson pinned Ciampa off the Ticket to Mayhem.

Grizzled Young Veterans vs MSK will be the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Final. The trash-talk with MSK on either side of the trophy didn’t come to violence.


The Pete Dunne and Finn Balor face to face closed the show, after they’d shown trash-talk stare-downs for all the other matches. It was all of ten seconds. Nothing was said, they just got into the ring and stared at each other as the show went off air.




Final word

That was a lot of NXT to fit into two hours, but they did it.

The card for NXT TakeOver Vengeance Day is:

  • Finn Balor (C) vs Pete Dunne – NXT Championship match
  • Io Shirai (C) vs Toni Storm vs Mercedes Martinez – NXT Women’s Championship match
  • Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez vs Ember Moon & Shotzi Blackheart – Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Final
  • MSK vs Grizzled Young Veterans – Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Final
  • Johnny Gargano (C) vs Kushida – NXT North American Championship match

That’s a decent looking card.

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